Richard Davis Conductor
Luca Manghi Flute
Stravinsky: Pulcinella Suite
Vivaldi: Flute Concerto, ‘La Notte’
Puccini: The Chrysanthemums
Briccialdi: Flute Concerto
Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 4, ‘Italian’
A large audience in King’s and Queen’s Performing Arts Centre on Saturday welcomed the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra for an early-evening Italian-themed concert conducted by Melbourne-based Richard Davis and featuring flute soloist Luca Manghi.
Ballet music from Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite I (1922) opened the concert — the Italian connection being Neapolitan plot and themes.
The suite’s nine sections gave opportunity for Italian baroque themes and individual instrumental cameos.
This venue and proximity to the audience can be unforgiving in exposing loose ends and slight discrepancies, but the work was thoroughly enjoyable, especially the duo spots with veteran trombonist William Henderson and double bass Patricia Dean.
The Chrysanthemums (1890), written in just one night by Puccini as an elegy for a nobleman friend, contained pleasant lyricism and some impressive rising crescendo contrasts.
Manghi says he has loved Vivaldi’s flute concerto Baroque La Notte (The Night) since he first heard it as a child, and his solo interpretation was colloquially imaginative.
From the ominous opening bars to the very last, he lovingly explored all the moods of this early woodwind masterpiece, which depicts phases of the night, including a ghost or two.
This was DSO’s first performance of La Notte and it successfully captured the spirit and style of Vivaldi.
Only piano accompaniment survived for 19th-century flautist Briccialdi’s Flute Concerto (1851), but Wellington conductor and musicologist Michael Vinten recently composed an orchestral score for Manghi to premiere with DSO, and enhance his beautifully manicured flute passages.
Davis conducts with agility and verve, also gaining audience rapport with brief introductions.
His advice was to consider each movement of Symphony No.4 (Italian) as a postcard from Mendelssohn, who visited Italy in 1830 and was inspired by Italy’s countryside, art, architecture and customs.
This added to the enjoyment of the orchestra’s final work.
The programme was repeated yesterday afternoon.
Reviewed by Elizabeth Bouman for the Otago Daily Times, Monday 10 July 2017